‘I’m a senior social worker and want a new challenge’

Question: “I am a senior social worker in adult physical disabilities services who wants a new challenge, either in children’s services or a legal setting. I am ready to study. Can you advise me on the options?”

Answer: Study is never a waste of time and increasingly employers expect to see evidence of learning throughout a career, writes Anthony Douglas. To move into children’s services, you would be expected to hold a relevant qualification within the post-qualification framework to work at the same level.

With a PQ, you could then reasonably do any of the jobs that a children’s social worker might be interested in, including early years, safeguarding or health-related work with children. Many employers would support such a career development programme, either by helping with fees, by granting some study time and with placements during your course or courses.

No short cuts

Switching careers into law would need a separate strand of study and there are no short cuts here. You might find a role within a specialist law practice involved in family law or medical negligence, to name just two. There are many solicitors firms practising in children law and other aspects of family law. Alternatives might be to work for a local authority legal department or the civil service. In time, after training, you could consider using your understanding of disability issues to be an expert witness able to report on the issues for children and families in which the disability of a family member is a significant and complex issue. These cases are increasing so “cross-over” practitioners and managers are a vital resource for many statutory agencies.

Act as a broker

One way of linking your current skills with a career change could be to act as a broker for direct payments/personalisation. Families can now access budgets to care for children or young people with a disability, as can some young people themselves, and some look for a brokerage or advocacy agency for help and support with this. Additional learning skills here are likely to be in advocacy and welfare rights through specialist programmes such as those provided by the Child Poverty Action Group.

Increasingly, local authorities are developing buddying and coaching schemes to allow senior staff to work across boundaries, as they are keen to promote joined up working between adults’ and children’s services. This may give you an option too, if you agree a personal development plan with your own manager.

Anthony Douglas (right), chief executive, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service

More articles by Anthony Douglas

A question for you: “I am an agency social worker and have heard that agency staff are about to get the same benefits as permanent staff. Is this true?”

We will post a specialist’s answer to this question here soon. Please send us your advice for publication 

Do you have your own career dilemma? Send us your comments or questions

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